As soon as Judy and Nick reached the police station, they both peeled off to the right side of the front door, pressing their backs up against the wall as they breathed heavily from the heavy amount of exercise they were getting today.
Neither of them even moved from their spots for at least a few minutes, as despite their head start, they were set upon by a couple of gang members who were above ground. Thankfully, they did manage to give them the slip, but they didn’t want to take any chances of them getting seen, even if it was in a safe place like the police station.
Eventually, Nick decided to take a risk. Leaning over, Nick slowly crept his way into view of a nearby window, trying his best to keep as much of his body out of view while at the same time enabling himself to see outside.
Luckily, the fact that this was a rural station helped, as the windows were equipped with Venetian blinds, and they were currently closed thanks to it being the time of day when the sun was peeking its way inside the windows.
Lifting up a slat with a finger, Nick peeked through the opening with one of his eyes, scanning the town in front of him for any sign of the gang members chasing them.
At first, it seemed like they were safe, as the only mammals they could see were normal townsfolk. He could even see Gideon walking by, the burned paw in his pocket as the other adjusted his shirt, no doubt to cover the bandage after it slipped into view.
Nick lightly shook his head, thinking that he might have to have a talk with him about looking past his mistakes.
“Anyone of them out there?” asked Judy, still pressed against the wall on the other side of the window.
“No, but I just saw Gid walking by. I guess he must have been on a lunch break or something.”
Just as they were beginning to think that they were safe, though, Nick looked back through the slat and immediately spotted one of the gang members, a spotted leopard in a black hoodie and slacks run into view, looking around the area as a pistol peeked through the waistband of his pants.
Nearly swearing, Nick jumped back into his position against the wall, the slat falling back into place as if it was never tampered with by the fox.
As for Judy, she’d also pressed herself up against the wall after seeing the way Nick acted, but she wanted to be absolutely sure before she came up with a plan of action on what to do next.
“Are they out there?” she asked, once again in a loud whisper.
“Just one of them, but he looks angry. Stay away from the window.”
Judy had no intentions of not following Nick’s warning, keeping her long ears erect above her so they didn’t end up falling past the window.
The two of them remained there for the next few minutes, barely moving as they waited for the right moment to check on the location of their pursuers, so much so that they were starting to get looks from the officers working in the station.
Eventually, though, the time came when they felt that they could risk a look outside. This time, Judy took a turn, lifting the lowest slat she could comfortably reach, peeking through the opening as she scanned outside.
Thankfully, despite both of the gang members being there, Judy had looked outside just as the two of them gave on the search, a visible shrug coming from the leopard before they walked out of view.
Although concerned that they could still be in the town looking for them, Judy decided to take it as a sign that they would be safe for the moment.
After signaling to Nick with a nod that the coast was clear, the two of them stood up, about to make their way to Cotton’s office when they noticed the increased number of stares they were getting.
“Oh! Uh…hi.” said Judy, awkwardly waving.
“Just passing through.” said Nick, a paw against Judy’s back as he led her quickly through the desks before things got more embarrassing. “Carry on.”
Despite some minor protesting from Judy for being pushed around, Nick successfully lead them through the worst of the stares, finding a group of officers that were still working diligently just as they reached Cotton’s office, the door once again slightly ajar.
“Welcome back.” said Cotton after having noticed the two of them enter. “I’m assuming judging by you two being here that you have something to share.”
As Cotton greeted them, Nick took his usual seat on the left side of the room.
As for Judy, before sitting down herself, she pulled Nick’s phone out of her pocket, placing it on Cotton’s desk before taking her seat.
“What’s this?” asked Cotton, puzzled.
“Our evidence.” said Judy. “We found the gang’s hideout at the end of a tunnel, which just so happened to be at hiding under a trap door in the ground.”
Cotton’s curiosity couldn’t help but be piqued after hearing that Judy’s supposedly crazy theory turned out to be true, but after reaching over and picking up Nick’s phone, he paused when he turned the screen on and noticed the input for the password.
“Uh, you’re going to have to help me here. I’m not exactly the best with these newfangled smartphones.”
“Oh, cheese and crackers!” said Judy. “Sorry, Sheriff.”
She was about to hop off of the seat to help him, but Nick ended up beating her to the punch, stepping behind Cotton’s desk as he punched the password in and opened the camera application.
“Swipe your finger to the left to change photos.” he said as he handed the phone back to Cotton and sat back down.
After a quick thank you from Cotton, the room fell silent as Nick and Judy watched him flip through the pictures, his face becoming more and more worried as he went deeper into the album.
As soon as Cotton reached the last picture and placed the phone back on his desk, his face went immediately into his paws, his elbows resting against the desk as he reflected on what he saw.
Judy, having noticed how far Cotton’s ears were drooping over his face, couldn’t help but be concerned with what the sheriff was thinking.
“Sir, are you alright?” she asked.
Out of nowhere, Cotton suddenly straightened back up with a pensive expression on his face, nearly giving Nick and Judy whiplash with the sudden change in his attitude.
“Are you sure? You didn’t look fine a moment ago.” said Nick.
“I am, honest. It’s just that this police station isn’t built for an operation of this magnitude. We don’t even have enough staff to handle this.”
“So, what are you saying?” asked Judy.
“We’re going to have to call in Precinct One. A gunrunning operation like this needs to have the SWAT team involved.”
Judy clearly didn’t want to get Chief Bogo involved, and she was about to argue her point against what Cotton was about to do.
However, before she could do so, she was stopped by a paw on her shoulder.
Looking over, she saw that Nick was obviously the one who’d done so, a softened expression on the fox cop’s face as he regarded her with a look that said ‘See what I mean?’.
“Carrots, this is exactly what I was telling you about this morning. I know you don’t want to get in trouble with Bogo or anything- “
“That’s not true!” protested Judy.
“Even if it’s not, I really think we should go along with what Cotton’s saying. The Chief’s not going to be happy with us, but this is honestly our only real option.”
Judy still wasn’t entirely comfortable with what Nick and Cotton were asking of her, but she knew deep down that she was just asking for trouble if she tried to convince Nick to take the gang down by themselves, or with Cotton and the Bunnyburrow Precinct along as well.
So, with extreme reservations, Judy nodded, falling back against the chair as she folded her paws over her lap, her gaze on the bottom of her seat.
Nick couldn’t help but be concerned with his partner, but despite wanting to comfort her, he unfortunately wasn’t able to get the chance, as they were interrupted by a series of beeps as Cotton dialed a number into his phone.
Judy assumed that Cotton must have put the phone call on speaker, as both her and Nick could clearly hear the dial tone emitting from it.
“Zootopia Police Department Precinct One. Officer Clawhauser speaking.” said the instantly recognizable voice on the other line.
“Benjamin! This is Edward Cotton from Precinct 15 down in Bunnyburrow. How are you doing?”
“Great! I’m doing fantastic! Anyway, what can I do for the fine folks down there today?”
“Actually, I’d like to speak to Chief Bogo if at all possible. I’ve got Nick and Judy with me, and we’ve got something important to share with him.”
“Really?” asked Clawhauser, sounding as peppy as ever. “I haven’t heard from those two in what feels like forever! How are your vacations going?”
“They’re going alright, Ben.” said Judy awkwardly, not wanting to blab their true purpose to the notoriously chatty cheetah and cause more issues.
“Good to hear. I can’t wait to hear about it when you guys get back into the city.”
“Looking forward to it, Benji. Now would you mind sending us to the Chief, please?” said Nick, interjecting before Clawhauser could start off on a tangent.
“Oh, of course! One second.”
A tone emitted through the speaker as Clawhauser put the call on hold, but it only lasted for a few seconds before the line was picked up again.
“Cotton.” said the gruff tones of Chief Bogo on the other line. “Make it quick. I’m busy.”
Although slightly put off by Bogo’s tone, Cotton’s professionalism took over as he quickly explained his reason for calling.
“Hmm, so you’re saying that there’s this new gang in your town with enough guns to arm an entire state’s army, and they’re using them to rob other mammals?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Cotton, that sounds like the ravings of a mad mammal on drugs.”
“Chief, I wouldn’t be calling you right now if I didn’t believe it myself. Besides, I have proof right here in front of me.”
“What kind of proof?”
“Send them over. I want to take a look at them.”
Cotton silently beckoned Nick over, handing the phone over to him.
“They’re on their way. Just give me a few minutes.”
Judy watched as Nick furiously typed at his phone, swiping at the screen a few times as it looked like he was piling all the pictures into one place to send to Bogo.
With one more tap, the pictures were soon sent, and Nick nodded to Cotton before taking his seat once more.
“They’ve just been sent. I believe they should be coming to your phone relatively soon.”
"Ah, here they are.”
The only thing the three of them could hear was Bogo’s breathing as the buffalo scrolled through the pictures on his phone.
“Who the bloody hell took these pictures anyway?” he said absentmindedly as he continued his scrolling.
“Nicholas Wilde and Judy Hopps.”
Bogo’s breathing fell silent for a few moments, causing both Judy and Nick to trade looks as they wondered just how the buffalo was taking the news that they were involved.
“Of course it’s those two.” said Bogo, his tone making Nick believe that he must have a hoof pressed up against his temple to relieve an oncoming headache. “Why am I not surprised that those two are once again sticking their noses into something that should be none of their business?”
“That’s just the way they are, I suppose.” said Cotton.
“Are they in the room with you?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Hopps…Wilde…are you there?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.” said Judy.
“I’m here, too.” said Nick.
“We are going to have some words about this once we’re finished with this whole mess.”
Nick and Judy traded looks once more, both of them nervous as Bogo clearly did not sound happy.
“So, are you convinced?” asked Cotton.
“I don’t need to be. I’ve got all of the evidence I need right here.”
“Great news. Now, when can we expect the SWAT team to arrive?”
Bogo paused, some typing being heard through the phone line.
“Well, I have good news and bad news.”
“What’s the good news?”
“The SWAT team’s on standby at the moment, so they’re free to assist with your problem.”
“And the bad news?”
“Department regulations require twenty-four hours of rest between each SWAT mission to prevent overworking the officers, and they’ve only just returned from their last mission twelve hours ago. So, unfortunately, I will not be able to send them out to you until tomorrow morning at the earliest. I will also be accompanying the team as well to serve as mission coordinator.”
“That’s perfectly understandable, Bogo.”
“Good. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”
“Good night, Chief. See you in the morning.”
Bogo grunted before hanging up, leaving Cotton to return his attention to the two in front of him.
“You two had better get some shuteye. We’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“Don’t I know it.” said Nick under his breath as him and Judy hopped down from their seats, saluting Sheriff Cotton for protocol’s sake before heading out of the office and back into the main precinct.
It wasn’t until after they’d exited the building when they’d finally spoke again, as Nick noticed the nervous look on Judy’s face.
“You alright, Judy?” he asked, catching the rabbit off guard as she realized that he was showing genuine concern by calling her by her actual name.
“Kind of.” she said. “I mean, I get what you’re saying about us needing help and all. The real concern I have is what Chief Bogo is going to do to us when he comes down here.”
“Yeah, Buffalo Butt did not sound happy. But look at it this way. The only thing we technically did wrong was get involved with police work on a police sanctioned vacation. We’re still making the world a better place, so I at least don’t think that we’ll be fired. I don’t know…maybe we might get suspended for a few days?”
“I guess that’s probably the worst-case scenario, but still, the Chief can be unpredictable sometimes.”
“Let’s just meet it as it comes by, alright? I really don’t want to think about it right now.”
Judy admittedly didn’t want to, either, so despite some niggling thoughts in the back of her mind, she shrugged, and the two of them began making their way out of town, eager to get back to the Hopps house to get a good night’s sleep after the day they’ve had.